Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed Western calls for him to stand down in an interview on state television, saying they had “no value”.
He acknowledged that unrest had become “more militant”, but said the authorities could deal with it.
And he announced multi-party parliamentary elections would take place next February.
“This might seem dangerous, regarding your question about the security situation,” he told the interviewer. “However, we can deal with this and we have begun to make progress recently…. We must continue with maintaining security… I am not worried about these events.”
Assad also warned that any military action against his country would backfire: that would have greater consequences than those who carried it out could tolerate, he said.
Syria’s leader has talked of reform before, though it is not prevented protesters calling for his downfall from taking to the streets.
Last Thursday he said military operations against demonstrators were over. But activists said dozens were killed the next day, and once again new pictures on the internet appear to show more protests.